Insights

Amazon’s Drone Program Buzzes Closer to Reality

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If you’ve been hoping to live in a world where soccer cleats can be delivered in less than 30 minutes, those dreams are now one step closer to reality.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration recently approved the first “beyond visual line of sight” (BVLOS) drone flight, which was performed by University of Alaska Fairbanks over an oil pipeline. Alaska is specifically interested in autonomous drones to deliver medical supplies and monitor its pipelines due to the rugged nature of the terrain, condition of maintained roads, and weather.

Amazon’s somewhat dormant Prime Air program has been busy designing new drones but has needed to make legitimate steps with the FAA before any of those blue and white flyboys can get off the ground. With one-day shipping becoming a costly venture, autonomous drones are another way Amazon is trying to get packages on doorsteps as quickly as possible. While promising in June that Prime Air would be delivering soon, there are still serious hoops to get through before drones are buzzing above the populus.

Currently, drone operators are required to stand within sight, so they can avoid air traffic, obstacles, and people. In order to fly a drone with humans below, further approvals are needed, but the potential to completely disrupt the supply chain and logistics industry is definitely real.